publications

Sand Hills Memories

Life in Nebraska’s Sand Hills was, and continues to be, a challenge. Mrs. Lulu Kortz Hudson

shared these memories of her life in “the greatest sand dune area in the western hemisphere”

in the 1934 report of the Nebraska Home Economics Association:



“When we came to Cherry county we had no roads, no bridges, no schools, no churches, no

mail service. For roads there were just cattle trails. We soon learned that an old cow made a

fairly good civil engineer and that one could drive a team and wagon wherever there was a

well-defined cattle trail and that cow trails always lead to water.



“The first church services were usually union services and the sermon read from some paper

sent to a homesteader by home folks, but everybody could and did sing. The music was both

sweet and strong.



“To get a mail route a community must first carry the mail three months free before the

government would consider a petition. At Boiling Springs ranch, fifty miles west of

Valentine, a nail keg was fastened up on the outside of the log ranch building. Anyone going

to town brought the mail for the neighbors and dumped it into the nail keg. Each man came

along and sorted out his own mail. Finally a government agent was sent out to inspect these

pioneer post offices and he said if they didn’t move their nail keg inside he would report them

and they would lose their post office. I know a woman homesteader who, to save the work

oxen, walked seven miles to the office to get a letter from back home. Luckily the letter was

there. Her husband afterwards became a well-known judge.



“People who are established and prosperous seldom become settlers in a new community. A

new community, such as ours, was just a lot of people thrown together, not because they had

the same training and interests and liked to be together, but they gathered at one spot for one

reason–a desire to make nature yield each a competence.



“Universal equality and mutual dependence and helpfulness were encouraged. Abilities little

suspected by their owners developed under pressure of community need. Teaching,

preaching, singing, meat curing, blacksmithing, dressmaking, the care of sick, cooking, every

talent was shared. Did one own a buggy, everybody borrowed it for the infrequent trips to

town thirty miles away to file on land to be had as a tree-claim, pre-emption, or homestead, to

defend a contest claim, or to meet a sister or brother from the East coming out on a visit.

Ours was a land of open sky, long roads, and free hospitality.”

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Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
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